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Storm in a teacup? Tempers flare online over coffee shop ‘beggars’

An online commenter’s criticism of the current “cafe culture among teenagers,” characterizing teenagers as “more like beggars” has recently created a frenzy online.

The now-infamous post made Monday on a well-known online community site, complained that teenagers crowded cafes to study in groups without buying anything.

“I see so many teenagers -- middle and high school students -- coming to the cafe that I frequent,” it said. “It’s quite absurd to see them just sitting there in huge groups not ordering anything at all. Even if they are not wearing their school uniforms, I can tell that they are in middle school because they’re working on their EBS assignments.”

A coffee shop in central Seoul (Yonhap)
A coffee shop in central Seoul (Yonhap)

The post said that teenagers should not disturb other customers, and that they “talk obnoxiously in groups for hours without having coffee.”

The person further described the students as being “beggars” and “very rude, (treating) the cafe as if it was their own living room.”

It added that the “beggar culture” among teenagers extended to burger restaurants as well.

But the post caused a storm on the Korean internet. With commenters piling on to side with the poster or the teenagers.

There was a considerable agreement that teenagers should be more considerate of other customers, but some questioned whether the critic was justified in criticizing teenagers who study at cafes.

“We have the right to study and talk at cafes like other people,” one teenager wrote. “You’re not even the owner of the store, so why make such a fuss?”

Amid worsening youth employment conditions in Korea, people studying at cafes have become a widespread complaint, but coffee and burger franchise stores have not generally taken measures to ban the “beggar culture.”

By Catherine Chung (